Tuesday, 2 June 2009
Just briefly: the Leader of the House has outlined a program that will ensure that the majority of members of the parliament who wish to speak will get to do so. We on our side of the House have grave concerns about the bills that will be voted on this week—the fair work bills, the fairer private health insurance incentive bills and the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme bills. We on our side of the House would like the opportunity to speak to those bills and to vote on those bills, so we are prepared to cooperate with the government. Adding hours yesterday morning, this morning, tonight and tomorrow night will ensure that democracy is well served by members being able to give the speeches that they had hoped to give—albeit in some instances in less than the full 20 minutes. Of course, if the member for New England, as an Independent member, wishes to delay the House for a full 20 minutes he is entirely entitled to do so. But we on this side of the House are quite prepared to ensure that every member of the House gets an opportunity to speak.
In speaking to this motion, I would point out that it is only because of the failure of the government to schedule correctly the bills to be debated and passed this year that we have been placed in this position. This is about the failure of the government, of whoever is running the business for the government, in putting these very substantive bills on the Notice Paper for debate this week. We know they can force them to be passed. We know they can apply the guillotine and gag the debate on these bills and deny us the opportunity to speak to these bills, and we want the opportunity to do so. But I do place on record our deep concern. When we were in government, this did not happen. We are in this position—and members of the Labor Party should understand this—because the Leader of the House has failed to correctly schedule the bills for debate in the chamber.
Question agreed to.